Coffee is a drink that many people around the world rely on. It helps a lot of us function and can prepare us for the busy day ahead. However, coffee is much more than just a beverage. It is the second most traded commodity in the world (after oil) and is now a growing multibillion-dollar industry, making it a product that has a massive impact on both the economy as well as the environment. Many of us are aware of fair-trade coffee, but not many people think about how its growth has an impact on our planet. Today, we will be looking at the impact coffee has on our environment and what consumers can do to help reduce it.
Coffee Growth Requirements
Many forested areas that support coffee growth need to face alterations to allow room for the coffee and canopies for the mass production of coffee.
Areas that are highly elevated in tropical or subtropical environments are the most common places to grow coffee. These places are often found in mountainous regions and the coffee beans grow naturally under shaded canopies of trees. These areas have a high biodiversity and are home to many different species. When areas are cleared and man-made canopies are put up to shelter the coffee plants, some species can thrive, but many others do not survive in this kind of environment, which decreases the area's biodiversity overall. This has a massive impact on the whole way the ecosystem functions. Unfortunately, many forested areas that support coffee growth need to face alterations to allow room for the coffee and canopies for the mass production of coffee. Due to the amount of coffee demanded by people, this method of growth can really affect the environment where it is grown.
Pesticides and Herbicides
To get the most out of its production, many coffee farmers will use herbicides and pesticides to protect their plants, which allows for optimum growth. Herbicides and pesticides tend to have a very negative effect on the environment, which can have an indirect impact on climate change. They can run into water sources and can kill helpful pollinating insects along with the pests, plus, the herbicides can kill natural plant species in the surrounding areas. Natural methods of pest control need to be considered to make this part of coffee production less damaging.
The best way to grow coffee without damaging the environment is to plant the seeds amongst trees in suitable forests. This helps to mimic the natural way coffee grows. These shady plantations are known to be a great habitat for birds and other Latin American fauna. More plants around the coffee plants mean that less herbicides are required, helping to protect the top soil as well as the original forest.
Another way to make sure your coffee isn’t causing climate change is to consume it sensibly. For example, if you use coffee pods for a machine, opt for a biodegradable solution, return empty coffee bags, buy fair-trade and organic coffee and make sure your coffee comes from Certified B corporations. Certified B corporations are organizations that can be found around the globe which supports the growth of more fair and sustainable coffee growth while using environmentally friendly methods such as renewable energy, compostable material use, and making sure the operation being run is carbon neutral.
Almost all of the products we as humans produce have some impact on our environment, however, some products are produced more sustainably than others. With so much environmental change going on, it is much better to get the right coffee that has been produced with the environment in mind than not. Usually, the more expensive option is the more caring and sensible option.